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Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month

As the month of September closes, I wanted to shed light on Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month. Though this disease has an effect on all Americans, it’s particularly common in African Americans. Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder with a gene defect in hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a gene protein inside of our red blood cells which picks up oxygen in our blood and drops it off in our tissues.  Sickle cell anemia red blood cells are shaped like sickles which make it harder get oxygen to all parts of the body. According to the CDC, “SCD occurs in about one out of every African American birth and about one in 13 African  American babies is born with sickle cell trait.”

Although there are interventions now to assist while in a sickle cell crisis, it hasn’t always been that way. Someone in a sickle cell crisis may experience but not limited to chronic pain, low energy, urinary complication, fatigue, and dizziness. Though medication is optionally available making appropriate life changes such as healthy nutrition and exercising and reducing stress can help reduce a crisis.  Therapy can be also a way to cope and deal with this disease. Talking with a professional (Spectrum Health is here for you) can help explore ways to reduce stress, learn and implement health coping skills and learn how to effectively express how you are feeling. Though this disease is most common in African Americans, and this population is already underserved, it is important that  we continue to educate  ourselves.

Shamecca DeJarnette

Clinician V

Spectrum Health and Human Services

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